It’s hard to believe that after four months of weekly posts, I’m drafting up my final ShoutOut! blog entry for the Spring ’13 semester. It’s been a semester of intense personal growth for me, and I’ve learned a lot—and changed my mind a lot—as a result of writing, blogging, researching, coffee dates and wine nights, all done bearing the purpose of figuring out exactly what my “brand” of feminism is.
I started off the semester with a strong-willed, girl-power piece entitled “Insights from a Lipstick-Wearing Feminist.” Here, I voiced a budding confidence in my “feminine feminism,” in spite of the notion that femininity can threaten feminism. I waved off this logic, asserting that I should be true to myself, because that’s the heart of the movement, right?
I progressively became less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and incrementally more pissed off, as my consciousness-raising semester continued. I started to realize that any deviation from fulfilling my prescribed gender norm was, well, unwelcome, as I discussed in “Speak Like a Lady.” I also started to question why other women were criticized, and made to feel like outsiders, for not buying into standardized female behaviors. For example, I enjoy wearing lipstick, dresses, and high heels. That’s all well and good, and no one is going to give me a double-take for buying into the social norm for how a woman “should” look. But what about a woman who chooses to not wear makeup? She’s criticized, as we can see from countless headlines of celebrities who “forgot” their face. If women are going to be humiliated for making the choice to stray from the norm, then do we really have the freedom of choice to behave, dress, act, and speak as we please?
I learned to apply the term “personal is political” to my everyday life. I’ve come to understand that I need to make some changes to the conversations I choose to engage in. I’ve challenged myself to refrain from gossiping about other women—and when I fail, my friends never hesitate to call me out: “hey, that’s crabs-in-the-bucket talk!” I’ve been much more in touch with the notion of sisterhood this semester, and understanding that as a woman, my words and my actions have the capacity to empower or cripple another woman. As a feminist, I choose to empower, and I have been actively working on transforming my language to build my sisters up.
Perhaps the most important personal development I’ve experienced in writing for ShoutOut! is my increased comfort in calling myself a “feminist.” I used to shy away from “the other F word” because of the stigmas attached to the title. Through this experience, though, I’ve become comfortable promoting my posts on Facebook and Twitter, and openly engaging in these discussions with my readers and my friends. I’ve been able to make my feminism my own, which encouraged me to claim the title of “feminist” as a fundamental part of who I am. My heightened sense of liberation and empowerment derived from my feminist consciousness-raising has in turn made me a more confident woman.
So, in short, it’s been quite a ride this semester. I’m grateful for the participation of my fellow bloggers, advisers, readers, and friends, for shaping my politics and making me the best version of myself. I can’t wait to engage in dialogue on even more of these issues next semester!